published Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

5-at-10: Season in 40 minutes and Combine numbers don't lie

Gang, remember Friday's mailbag and to tip the wait staff.

Season in 40 minutes

OK, you're the Tennessee Vols. You've buckled up and pulled down the bar on arguably the SEC's craziest roller coaster of a basketball season in recent memory. You have three players playing at an all-SEC level for the last three weeks, and you are facing a top-five team at home with your slim NCAA hopes resting on the outcome.

This — tonight's 9 p.m. tip between the bubble-craving Vols and the No. 1-seed-searching Florida Gators — is a lot of things. It's appointment TV, since there are very few chances in the marathon and often meaningless march to March that has become college basketball rarely offers truer make-or-break moments for a team. It's the fun chance to see a full house — which Thompson Boling will be — that is rocking with every possession. It's a chance to watch a potential "Moment" game — for the Vols, for their coach, their point guard and their five-star power forward.

So here we are, these Tennessee Vols, winners of five straight to even get into visual range of the bubble, facing the nation's best team not in the Big Ten. It likely can only end one of two ways: Either this is a magical matching of haymakers and Hail Marys, a shootout meets slugfest with a few dance steps in between; or the moment and the magnitude and physical edge that Florida's completeness offers will simply become an avalanche.

We're planning on the former, and here's a mini-checklist for first-half success:

  • photo
    UT's Trae Golden brings the ball downcourt during a game against UTC at Thompson-Boling Arena in this file photo.
    Photo by Angela Lewis /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

• Trae Golden must play like post-January Trae Golden. As our UT ace Downtown Patrick Brown shares here the funk has been lifted and the strength and solidity that was expected of Golden has returned — and then some.

• Keep the crowd involved. The longer this stays a tight game, the better for the hosting Vols. If Florida sprints to 26-8 lead, well, here's hoping Jimmy Dykes has some interesting anecdotes.

• Jordan McRae has been the league's biggest surprise. Jarnell Stokes has been the league's best frontcourt player in 2013. Golden has return to be being golden. Those things have to continue, of course, against a Florida team that is the league's most balanced 1-through-5. Know what else? The Whiskered Winger, Mr. Skylar McBee, must continue his efficiency that has been essential in this five-game winning streak. McBee is hitting 34.7 percent of his 3-pointers this year (amazingly, McBee shoots 10 percent better OUTSIDE the 3-point line), but he's 10-of-19 (52.6 percent) from beyond the arc in the Vols' recent run. And amazing has not attempted a shot from inside the 3-point line since Feb. 10 against South Carolina. That's knowing your role folks.

This also gives us a good look at how Cuonzo "The Conz" Martin will handle the moment. We're hoping for an enjoyable game.

———

Numbers do not lie

The defensive front seven guys — defensive linemen and linebackers — took to the drills at the NFL combine on Monday.

And for all the Daytime Soap Opera drama and the fact that Spy now knows the modern definition of Catfishing, the events of Monday were way more damaging professionally than the cyber-dating imaginations and machinations in the world of Manti Te'o. Te'o clocked a 4.82 40 time at 6-foot-1 and 248 pounds. While the 40 times may seem somewhat over-inflated for some positions — name the last time a down lineman or a pocket QB needed to run 40 yards in a quarter, never mind in less than 5 second — defensive back seven guys who are required to cover a lot of ground need respectable 40 times.

We know Te'o struggled mightily against Alabama — easily the fastest team Notre Dame faced all year — the speculation was that Te'o was distracted by the drama about being fooled/fake internet girlfriend scam about to come to light. And that would be completely understandable considering the effects.

Know what else? He may have struggled to keep up with the speed of the game. Here's saying that Te'o passed the interview tests this weekend better than the physical test of Monday, and who could have expected that a month ago?

Let's look at five guys that made some money on Monday by testing well:

• Georgia linebacker Cornelius Washington: Wow, who had any idea Washington was this type of physical freak. Well, our SEC ace David Paschall did. Paschall routinely said that Washington — despite never delivering big-time results — would be the first player off the bus of his team because he looks the part. He runs the part too. On physical gifts alone, Washington delivered first-round numbers. As an outside linebacker, he is 6-foot-4 and 265 pounds. He ran a 4.55 40, posted a 39-inch vertical — which is better than Cordarrelle Patterson, by the way — and benched 225 pounds 36 times. Wow. Talk about testing like Tarzan and playing like Jane, hey Georgia fans what was Cornelius' best moment on the field this year. In truth, Washington was bigger, faster and stronger than Georgia teammate Alec Ogletree. Stunning.

• SMU defensive end Margus Hunt: Speaking of stunning. Sweet Baby Ray's Bar-B-Q sauce this guy moved up every draft board this side of Uncle Sam. Take a look at these measurables: 6-8, 277 pounds with a 4.6 40, 38 reps of 225 pounds on the bench and a 38-inch vertical. Wow. He was the opposite of Texas A&M defensive end Damontre Moore, who played his way out of the top 15 or so picks with a poor showing.

• Oregon defensive end Dion Jordan: At 6-7 and with great game tape, Jordan's 4.60 40 time jumped him into the top 10 overall picks. This draft class is loaded with difference-making defensive ends.

• LSU defensive Barkevious Mingo: Another guy that acquitted himself well Monday with a 4.58 40. At 6-4 and 241 pounds, Mingo appears slight as a defensive end. You know who else appeared slight as a defensive end a few years ago? DeMarcus Ware. That turned out OK. The Mingo ate your quarterback, baby.

• BYU defensive end Ezekiel Ansah: He arrived BYU from Ghana with hopes to play basketball and run track. He never made the basketball team so he started playing football in 2010. Read that again. Now know that he's going to be a first-round pick in the 2013 NFL draft. That's what happens when you are 6-5, 271 pounds with close to a seven-foot wingspan and a 4.63 40 time.

————

Graham on the go

Jay Graham has taken his talents to Tallahassee. The former record-setting Vols running back and UT running backs coach has left his alma mater reportedly for a job on FSU’s staff.

It happens. people change jobs, even leaving jobs they like at places they love for decisions that are theirs. It’s a business. Period.

Does it hurt? Sure it does because Graham is a top-flight coach and a top-flight recruiter. Does it mean the Vols are cracking at the seams? Hardly.

This is not like the mass exodus of staff that Tennessee had this time a year ago. This is one guy who made a decision to advance his career, his resume and likely his bank account.

The biggest question for Johnny Vols Fans out there should not be why as much as what now? Where will Butch Jones turn and how quickly?

It was one coaching move of a slew of them of late.

UTC added a new DC title to a familiar face. Alabama is reportedly going to hire Billy Napier, the former Murray County High School QB, and Mario Cristobal to an already star-studded staff. Ole Miss reportedly lost their recruiting ace to the NFL.

As much as we love college football and preach about its passion and pageantry, it’s still a BID-ness, and those that do the best work get chances to step up and get promoted.

Like in most areas, sports is one of the true meritocracies we have left.

————

This and that

— The Patriots have reportedly signed quarterback Tom Brady to a contract extension through 2017. This makes us happy. What's your Rushmore of the best players of the modern generation to spend their entire career with one team: We'll take Duncan, Jeter, Brady and Chipper. Thoughts?

— Florida Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria said the dismantling of the team had to happen. Sure it did. We wonder if Loria goes home every night and listens to the "Greed is good" speech from Gordon Gekko before he goes to bed. OK, the team needed to be destroyed, but it was just funny timing that it was destroyed one season after you got a new ball park from the citizens of South Florida. Hmmmmm.

— And the next thing has arrived. Alabama reportedly offered an eighth-grader a football scholarship. This is according to the kid's dad, who could easily have misunderstood or it could be completely legit. Either way, who's going to question the recruiting decisions of Nick Saban. Question the recruiting math if you want — If all of Alabama's 2013 class gets into school, the Tide are projected to be 12 scholarships over the NCAA-mandated 85 limit — but you can not question Saban's recruiting chops. Dude is the Good Will Hunting of recruiting — he can play the game.

————

Today's question

The 5-at-10s finished the first season DVD of Homeland on Monday. Very good stuff. Not in the same conversation as The Wire for our money, but still very good stuff. We are already on the hunt for season 2 of Homeland since we are about to get into the TV doldrums. So it goes.

We have two questions for you today: What TV show would you suggest we back track on DVD. There are a lot of options and there are a gaggle with similar ideas about what makes good TV who have recommended Breaking Bad, and that may be the leader in the club house. (Side note: Everyone has that friend or that couple who have a skewed taste of what makes good movies or TV right? You know the ones who will say, "Man, we saw 'Home Alone 4' last night, and it was awesome. You can't even really tell that the Culkin kid is 26... other than the whiskers and the tattoo. You know what else is awesome... Rocky 5. You got rent it. And, heard 'Lincoln' was pretty slow." It makes for a reverse movie review code that in truth is more reliable than actual movie reviews. Strange, huh. "What you haven't seen 'That's My Boy' with Adam Sandler. It's great.")

Anyway, this got us thinking: All of the answers of any "Best of questions..." skew older and that's OK. We get nostalgic and prideful about things we deem ours. That said, what is the Mount Rushmore of the best TV shows of the last 10 years? Discuss.

about Jay Greeson...

Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...

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Stewwie said...

Respectable one-teamer list, but what about Kobe?

February 26, 2013 at 10:34 a.m.
chas9 said...

Excellent breakdown of the big game. I have no doubt that Golden, Stokes, and McRae will all be golden. Who can predict about the Bewhiskered Bomber, but he's been solid lately.

Problem is, The Gators are elite at every position. No cracks anywhere. Tennessee has good chemistry finally, but Florida is smart and on the spot all the time. The UF parts are excellent, and the sum of the parts is even better. Wilbekin is underrated. The Gator guards will outplay The Vols' guards.

February 26, 2013 at 10:45 a.m.
TennFlyer said...

Great one team list. Two shows that were / are entertaining if you enjoy sci-fi, Eureka and Warehouse 13. These are both acquired taste type shows.

February 26, 2013 at 10:53 a.m.
orangeguy said...

Excited about tonight's game. Not expecting a big orange win, but hoping for a great game. Much as I love & respect "The Conz", how happy is Billy Donavan that Bruce Pearl is not on the sideline tonight? The man owned the Gators.

Losing Graham hurts in more ways than one. Many Vols fans want Trooper Taylor back. I'll pass, thank you.

Rushmore of best players with one team? I'm not disagreeing with any of your selections. Matt Kemp will be on there in a few years. Magic will keep that guy in Dodger blue & with talent surrounding, L.A. should wrestle the West away from San Fran in the near future.

Loria's a joke. Been a joke for years. I'll never forgive MLB for pushing Mark Cuban away while allowing a doofus like Loria to kill/regenerate/kill two franchises.

Don't watch enough "regular" TV to really weigh in on the other Rushmore. I'm a Food Network, History/Discovery kinda guy. So, I'll be the only one with Diners, Drive In's, & Dives, Iron Chef America, Man vs. Wild, & Stormchasers on my Rushmore.

February 26, 2013 at 11:20 a.m.
John_Proctor said...

Proof of my skewered taste you ask?

NYPD Blue especially the story lines that revolved around the Dennis Franz character Andy Sipowicz. TV at its best! Those episodes alone are Mount Rushmore caliber. The show is a REAL oldie as the last original episode was telecast was in 2005.

February 26, 2013 at 11:23 a.m.
ordinaryguy said...

Was not far off in my Danica pick...great addition to the sport and she WILL WIN a race this year...Plus the thrity percent up tick in ratings were good news to the Corleone oops excuse me France family...as far as the best tv of the last ten years, this Rushmore is a NO BRAINER....NYPD Blue, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, and Boardwalk Empire...enough said

February 26, 2013 at 11:45 a.m.
chas9 said...

The Pearl was good against Donovan's Florida teams, but 8-5 (losing the last five) isn't quite "owning" The Gators. Calipari's Cats are 8-2 vs. Billy's boys. That includes the recent debacle in Knoxville.

February 26, 2013 at 12:10 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Stewwie —

Will need a ruling on Kobe's one-team status since he was drafted by the Hornets/Bobcats and forced them to trade him.

9er —

It's a tall order to be sure, and Florida is a beast.

Florida being better than the sum of its parts is high praise for Billy D.

And if we're talking records, didn't The Conz sweep Florida last year making him 2-0 against the Gators.

Orange —

Trooper is a name we're hearing a lot too. We share your trepidation.

And Kemp is a great call. Here's hoping he leads the new generation of guys that put up monster numbers and we never have to hear about PEDs.

Mr. Proctor —

There's a fair argument to be made the NYPD Blue is on the Rushmore of Underrated shows of all-time, too.

OG —

Boardwalk Empire is a great call. We watched Season 1, then moved and didn't re-up on the HBO with young 'uns. That makes the "To be considered" list.

— 5-at-10

February 26, 2013 at 12:40 p.m.
chas9 said...

As recently as yesterday I quoted the RPI rankings, because everybody else does, including the selection committee. But I hate 'em. I won't go near the RPI before Groundhog Day, but even now the numbers are deeply flawed.

Perhaps the most egregious mistakes are two teams that would rank high in the Top Tenn rankings, if that list existed today, Belmont and MTSU. Both are about 30 spots too high.

The best two wins for #23 Belmont (20-6) are over #27 MTSU (who's nowhere near as good as #27) and #65 Stanford, both back before Christmas. And they have losses to #103 UCF, #104 TN State, and #142 Northeastern.

For perspective, #46 Kentucky (19-8) beat #38 Missouri and #56 Ole Miss, and their worst losses are to #64 Baylor and #84 A&M. Who has Belmont paid off? Which team would you bet on if they met on a neutral court? Belmont's also not better than #56 Ole Miss, #57 Tennessee, or #62 Bama, none of which will dance this year.

Those four SEC teams would also beat # 27 MTSU, whose ONLY top 100 win is over #56 Ole Miss (squeaker in Murfreesboro before Christmas). The Blue Raiders have an ugly loss to #138 Arkansas State.

Raise your hand if you think Belmont would beat the lower ranked NC State or Wisconsin. And would either Belmont or MTSU have much chance against #40 Notre Dame (22-6) which beat RPI teams ranked #8, 37, 46 and 50 (twice), and has a worst loss to #86?

Tennessee's best win is over over-rated #30 Wichita State who beat teams #34, 36, and 45, but lost to #119 and #198. The Shockers are not better than #36 VCU (best W's over #18 and 23 and worst loss #78) or #37 Pitt (best W's over #12, 13, 29 and 50, worst loss #110).

The RPI is a Real Poor Index.

February 26, 2013 at 1:14 p.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Sorry, I'm late First half was phone duty.

Jay, ::scary moment:: One of my female friends here in Dallas and her husband went to see that "delberately" and thought it was hilarious. In fairness to Adam, I liked his earlier work such as "Happy Gilmore" and the "Wedding Singer", and gave him respectable props for going out of his comfort zone with "Punch Drunk Love" and "Funny People". Unfortunately, because of the "Hollywood Machine" and Adam not wanting to give up his financial lifestyle, he decided to churn out useless crap thus branding him our generation's "Elvis" (let that seep in for a moment).

I may end up watching that film on a night if I decide to have drunk movie night like I did with Dragonball-Revolution.

I'm with orangeguy in the fact the bulk of my television viewing is consistent of History/Food Network/ESPN. I can count on one hand the number of scripted television I like to watch. My two best bets (both on FX) if you haven't watched them is "Justified" and "Archer" Also, nods to orangeguy for the "Triple D" nod. WHY Guy has not done the 'Noog is blasphamy! An't he never heard of Nikki's? I also read a great review of Community Pie on another online publication and basically that too would be worth Triple D airtime. I'm just saying.

February 26, 2013 at 1:32 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

Well, 5, aside from Hillbilly Handfishing....

I do like Mad Men. Well written, well acted.

Also some big ups to Modern Family.

I do like Breaking Bad. I'm not one of those folks who says it's the greatest thing since sliced bread, but it are enjoyable.

Big on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. I'd be more into Iron Chef America if they cooked something someone would actually eat.

Also big on Burn Notice.

And Swamp People. Great show.

February 26, 2013 at 1:51 p.m.
Stewwie said...

[Will need a ruling on Kobe's one-team status since he was drafted by the Hornets/Bobcats and forced them to trade him.]

Make that Hornets/Bobcats/Pelicans. Haha. I thought about the draft night transaction too but I let him qualify for the Rushmore since he hasn't actually played a minute in any other uniform but the purple and gold. To be sure though, I called up David Stern just now and asked for his thoughts. He gives a thumbs up as well (thanks, David). That said, my list would be the same as yours but put Kobe in for Chipper.

The extent of my TV watching these days is sports and Disney Junior (thanks, Lil' Stewwie). I'm usually too busy doing other things to have time to watch anything else. If TV was a la carte, I'd only need about 5 channels.

February 26, 2013 at 1:55 p.m.
jgreeson said...

9er —

We view the RPI not unlike the college football polls. They are flawed but they are universally accepted and understood. Until the Jay Bilas Index or whatever comes next is embraced and accpeted, we got what we got.

Granted, it's flawed for all the reasons you list and more.

JMC —

We actually have a higher tolerance for Sandler than most of the "playing the same guy" in every role guys in Hollywood.

Liked Wedding Singer, liked Big Daddy and Happy and Billy Madison. Even was surprisingly entertained with Grown Ups.

There is no in between with Sandler though and heard "That's My Boy" was banned by the Geneva Convention as part torture in certain civilized areas of the planet.

Spy —

We missed the boat on Modern Family. There are a lot of folks we know with opinions we respect that say Modern Family is top shelf.

Burn Notice huh? USA is sneaky good.

Side note: Did you see that NBC fell to fifth in the ratings for February, trailing CBS, Fox, ABC and wait for it..... Univision. Come se diche Stinky-pants?

Stew —

We can see that, and on that technicality we would rank Kobe over Chipper, too.

Man, if we had a nickel for every Disney Jr. show we know now compared to three years ago, we'd have a slew of nickels.

What's your Disney Jr. Top 5? And whether you like it or not, you have offered up tomorrow's 5-at-10 question. Well played.

— 5-at-10

February 26, 2013 at 2:21 p.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Small world Spy..really small world. My current comedy routine consists of bit about Swamp People which as you can imagine is less than flattering. And yes, it does include me impersonating Troy on stage. The bit registers 50/50 with the audience depending on who I'm performing it to and where if that makes sense.

February 26, 2013 at 2:30 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

I was remiss in not mentioning The Big Bang Theory, though this season has been more white dwarf than red giant.

February 26, 2013 at 2:43 p.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Jay,

Regarding Diz Jr. I'm sure your parents (and mine) felt the same way a generation ago regarding PBS shows. Electric Company, Zoom, Da Rogers (sneaker and sweater not discount double-check) and of course "Da Street" (pre-Elmo and when Mr. Booper was still kicking). Along with that creepy muppet with the trenchcoat and the letter that always gave me the chills (he reminded me of those stranger presentations in kindergarden).

February 26, 2013 at 2:55 p.m.
chas9 said...

And Colorado State (19-6) is ranked #16 over the Crafty #19 Ohio State (20-7). Crazy!

Ohio State beat #6 Michigan, #9 Michigan State and #17 Minnesota with a worst loss at #33 Illinois. Colorado State beat #15 UNLV and 32 San Diego State and lost to #159 Illinois-Chicago. Not even close.

Who's getting paid off?

February 26, 2013 at 2:56 p.m.
Todd962 said...

Speaking of Happy Gilmore, you should know that the only image my brain will allow me to have when speaking of 6'8" guys running 40's is Happy's former boss at the end of the movie chasing Shooter. Good times.

And speaking of good television, sat down with Lady Todd last night and watched the Bachelor for a whole episode. While I regretted gouging my eyes out this morning, I still think it was the only thing I could have done at the time.

Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia used to make me laugh uncontrollably many years ago. It was like a crude Seinfeld with rampant alcohol abuse. A show that wasnt so far from the reality I was in at the time. If you watched it from the beginning the subtle references to the past made the episodes great. Then like any show it went to crap but appears to be coming back in the last few seasons. The first two or three seasons are definitely worth the watch if youre into that sort of thing.

February 26, 2013 at 2:59 p.m.
Stewwie said...

Disney Junior Top 5...

6 months ago I would have said that Mickey Mouse Clubhouse is #1, but I think Jake and the Neverland Pirates is now head of the class at the Stewwie compound. MMC is close behind at #2. #3 is probably Sofia the Princess. Lil' Stewwie has a major crush though he denies it when I ask him. #4 is Little Einsteins and #5 is Octonauts. Honorable mention to Doc McStuffins and Gaspard and Lisa.

February 26, 2013 at 3:03 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

Todd,

Nice call on Always Sunny. Love DeVito's character Frank.

I didn't know Seth MacFarlane played hoops at UK. Looks like he's one and done too.

February 26, 2013 at 3:49 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Stewwie —

Solid top five.

Sofia is underrated. Like the Octonauts.

We're bouncing with a little post DW trip fling with Nick Jr., but so it goes. Jake is a power player, so is Little Einsteins (who were created by a woman who started them as puppets and made videos for the local kids and sold it to Disney for a number that included several commas).

Not a Gaspard and Lisa fan. At all.

Although the worst — the Dead Stinkin' Worst — is Calliou. Period and there will be no discussion.

February 26, 2013 at 4:07 p.m.
mcpell3 said...

5/10 - here's a question for you to ponder...reports have the Falcons looking at Steven Jackson from the Rams, if they release Turner. Why would you take a 30 year old RB when you could draft one? After all Turner is 31 and should be released. Jackson is good, but he is about to pass his shelf life.

I can see I am not in the loop on a lot of these TV shows.

February 26, 2013 at 4:40 p.m.
Stewwie said...

Lol. G&L is a little bit strange. Concur on Calliou.

Didn't know that about Little Einsteins. Happy retirement to that woman who created them.

February 26, 2013 at 5:13 p.m.
jgreeson said...

JMC —

Is Da Rogers Mr. Rogers' street name? Is he related to Da'Rick?

9er —

Point made.

You bring up a team that will wreck some brackets — THE Ohio State. Could be a Final Four team; could be out in the first four days.

962 —

Happy Gilmore's goon was the same guy from the original Longest Yard, no? That guy would have killed at the Combine.

As for the Bachelor stuff, well, we'll borrow the ol' Lewis Grizzard line — "Don't believe we'd a told that brother."

Spy —

Seth and Unibrow have a lot in common. We thought the "Boob Song" was clever; apparently the Hollywood Powers that Be did not. So it goes.

Not sure who they could get to host that would entice us to watch, but Ted is not that guy; Hugh Jackman is not that guy.

McPell —

Completely agree. You've got 30-year-old tires, are you going to replace them with 30-year-old tires and offer a big cap hit? No thanks.

As for being in the loop, well, we're hardly a TV critic unless it's regarding shows with a city in the name. We familiar with Nashville and Vegas and Dallas and Chicago Fire.

And all things Disney. War Stewwie.

— 5-at-10

February 26, 2013 at 5:46 p.m.
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